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"Traditional" English Christmas dinner?

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  • eamcd Dec 21, 2007 05:08 AM

My husband's been reading a lot of Shakespeare and Dickens this year and I've been re-reading Jane Austen. So, it's just us and 2 kids for Christmas dinner -- he suggested we tend toward a "traditional" or old-fashioned English Christmas dinner for something different. (We're in the U.S.)

We're not going to do goose for 4 (including 2 children), but I'm thinking of a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding (have checked the threads for those already). But I'm hoping for suggestions to fill out the meal... We're willing to put in the effort, even if we do a few separate things simple enough for our kids (who are mixed in their adventurous eating stages).

What sides would you suggest (whether they are "English" or just good)?

Can I still do a Christmas pudding-type recipe this close to the holiday? Or is "Stirring up" day essential for the soak?

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  1. Roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roasted potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts. Trifle for sweet.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pikawicca

      Ditto pikawicca's suggestions. That's exactly the menu I would choose. Maybe mix some chestnuts and/or lardons in with the Brussels sprouts.

    2. There's no reason you can't make a Christmas pudding four days before serving. The day you make it is "stirring up" day.

      1. Most of what would be served with standing rib roast in the US would be served in the UK. You could try doing a stilton sauce with the roast, mushy peas on the side, though I like brussel sprouts pan roasted with streaky bacon and garlic.

        Christmas pud is utterly required. If you don't have the time to make one, you can easily pick up a decent packaged version from most major department stores at this time of year.

        http://uktv.co.uk/food/homepage/sid/6469

        1. Almost without exception, Christmas dinner in the UK will be turkey.

          "Standard" accompaniments would be roast potato, carrots and spouts with chestnuts. There would also be at least one, possibly two stuffings - sage & onion and chestnut (if you're not having chestnuts with the sprouts). And bread sauce.

          "Stir up Sunday" is traditionally a month before Christmas so you won't now have time for it to mature. But the "light pudding" on this link might well work:

          http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/se...

          6 Replies
          1. re: Brit on a Trip

            When I lived in England in the 60's, NO ONE ate turkey except American expats (and it tasted like fish because farmers fed the birds fishmeal). Christmas dinner was either goose or roast beef (far more popular).

            1. re: pikawicca

              You're right (roast pork or chicken was always our family Christmas dinner).

              But intensive battery farming over the last 40 years now means turkey (and chicken for that matter) is now a very cheap meat in the UK. Even if it has become tasteless and is unethically raised.

              You can buy organic or free-range birds from the supermarket, but they are not cheap. For a 10 pound organic bird, cost is about £60 ($120). It's what we'll be having.

              1. re: pikawicca

                Hi iam English living near London and was born in the Late 1960s, and in my life time it is turkey,for Christmas. i do not know of many that have goose, that seem more from 1860. True some do have rost beef. But for me it has to be free range turkey with pigs in blankets.

                1. re: BTX5MG

                  Your earliest food memories are from the 1970's, hardly "traditional."

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    But there's stuff from the 70s in antiques stores now ... ;)

                    1. re: foiegras

                      And Le Creuset has brought back the 2 1/2 quart oval cocotte I bought with wedding cash in the '70's as a (per Williams-Sonoma's holiday catalogue ad) HERITAGE item. How to feel old department.

            2. In our California Christmas dinners of two ex-pat working class English families (came from London and Lancashire in the 20's), we always had turkey or boiled ham, frenched green beans, fresh horse beans (favas) if available (if not, then Brussels sprouts) pan-roasted white potatoes, pan gravy if turkey served, boiled field mushrooms, creamed pearl onions with peas, and trifle for dessert, with mincemeat tarts for the older generation. Dinner was early, about 4, and dessert served at about 7.

              Prime beef roast was too expensive to serve at our large get-togethers, so turkey subbed for goose which was not available. Turkey was .29# in those days. A turkey or ham would feed everyone with plenty leftover for several days.

              These dinners were fun because every family had their specialty they contributed. Mom cooked the main dish and the frenched green beans and pototoes, Aunt Joan brought fresh rolls and mincemeat tarts, Gram made the creamed onions and the gravy. Dad would gather the Brussels sprouts at a friend's dairy (used for cattle feed) and wild mushrooms at the local golf course, and raid the local orchards for horsebeans which were grown by the ranchers as a nitirogen-fixing cover crop (fertilizer). We kids had the job of shelling the horsebeans. I developed the knack for feeding them (blech) under the table to the cat.

              2 Replies
              1. re: toodie jane

                toodie jane, how was the milk from the brussels sprouts cows?

                1. re: alkapal

                  who knows? the old time Santa Cruz Swiss-Italian family (3 batchelor brothers and their sister) refused to "update" the old family run dairy, (to cement floors, milking machines, drugs, etc) so they sold their milk to a canned milk company, CarnationI think, up in the SF Bay Area.

                  The cows grazed on sweet seaside grasses and watercress, got homegrown apples and pumpkins too, so it was probably pretty good. My mom was lucky enough to have had fresh raw milk and cream and to have eaten (snitched) some cheese from the cheesehouse as a kid. No cheese being made by the time we kids came along in the 50's, sad to say. Just plenty of fond memories of ice cream made for visits by kids old and young! No sprouts flavor in that as I recall!

              2. I agree with the responses you have had so far, just one extra thing I remember from growing up in the UK and Christmas Dinner. Chipolata sausages cooked around the turkey. I have never seen them in the US but I am sure a good quality breakfast sausage would do. Anyone have any ideas?

                9 Replies
                1. re: giveittomikey

                  Yes, I was thinking "but what about the chipolatas?" -- not a huge fan pesonally but I never saw a Christmas turkey served without them when I lived in the UK.

                  1. re: GretchenS

                    I know sausages are traditional but they've never been a part of our meal - but bacon rolls are (forgot to mention earlier). Standard American style bacon is ideal - just roll up the rasher and roast for a bit.

                    1. re: GretchenS

                      This is so true we always have roast turkey, Chipolatas wraped in bacon pigs in blankets we call them. Also a must is stuffing, Roast spuds, roast parsnips, and from you guy over the pond we have cranberry sauce, or bread sauce, from this side of the pond. Most have brussels sprouts but i hate them. Christmas pud in my house this is with rum sauce, made from 98% proof Navy rum washed down with spakleing white wine.

                      1. re: BTX5MG

                        I know about bread sauce from novels, but ... what is the texture like? How is it served?

                        1. re: foiegras

                          I'd love to know too - I haven't had the guts to try it yet, and my husband hates "wet" bread. I'll post back when I do though! I roasted a partridge, and some of my English books called for bread sauce, and one for celery sauce. I went with the celery.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            smartie's description of "gloopy" is about right. It is a sauce so it does have a moist consistency but isnt really runny.

                            It is one of those quite bland things that we Brits cook quite well. The secret to a good bread sauce is infusing the milk with the onion studded with cloves. I finely chop some of the onion into the finished sauce - others would think I should be burned at the stake for crimes against tradition.

                            1. re: Harters

                              I am of the school where more onion can never be a bad thing ... but then it has been hundreds of years since my people left the old country ;)

                              1. re: Harters

                                I like finely chopped onion in mine too, and cook it slowly for ages so that the onion pieces are soft. You don't want any crunch in a bread sauce.

                            2. re: foiegras

                              it's kinda the texture of corn bread dressing but you can make it as thick or runny as your family prefer. I like it fairly gloopy so not as heavy as say mashed potatoes but not runny either. I guess the same texture and thickness as grits. It does not taste like wet bread.

                      2. Fully agree on the food suggestions. My English in-laws (well, father-in-law) do standing rib on Christmas Eve then the turkey meal on Christmas day. Eeek. Two very heavy, but very yummy, meals.

                        One thing, since you're really talking traditional with Dickens what about some traditional beverages? Apparently, Dickens's great-great-great grandson recently wrote a book called Drinking With Dickens that includes relevant drinking passages from his novels/stories with the recipe along side. Steaming Bishop anyone? Not so appropriate for the kidlets, but good for the parents!

                        1. as a Brit in the US we are having traditional English Christmas dinner - of course no Queen's speech at 3pm.

                          But it's always turkey in the UK - with sausages roasted round it (though I can't find the right kinds here), stuffing cooked in the bird, roast potatoes and roast parsnips, another vegetable, gravy (not American type of gravy but one made with meat juices and Bisto), cranberry sauce and apple sauce, bread sauce, then Christmas pud with brandy butter, mince pies with brandy butter.

                          I have never heard of roast beef for Xmas

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: smartie

                            there is a place in Lumberton NC that will mail-order traditional British sausages. Williams I think it is called.

                            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                              In the NY area, you could probably get them from Myers of Keswick in the West Village. Not sure if they mail order, but they do have a website:
                              www.myersofkeswick.com

                              1. re: roxlet

                                Tommy Molloy"s (sp) in Brooklyn or Queens has Irish sausages. They are pretty close

                            2. re: smartie

                              smartie: I'll bet you could get the Queen's speech over here now that we have seventeen bazillion channels. Of course it wouldn't be at 3 p.m.

                              What's brandy butter? With those ingredients, how could it be bad?

                              1. re: oakjoan

                                I think there is a recipe in my new Elizabeth David book - do you want me to post it? Also, interestingly, there is a recipe for Hardy's Sauce, which looks an awful lot like what we call "hard sauce" (no idea why, because it's not hard) and serve with mince meat pie.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  Hard sauce is "hard" as in contains alcohol - think hard cider = alcoholic cider.

                                2. re: oakjoan

                                  brandy butter is unsalted butter whipped up then add confectioner's sugar like you would make a frosting and then brandy - add a few drops at a time, till it's the consistency of frosting.

                              2. Brussels sprouts with chestnuts. My fave recipe is in
                                nigella Lawson's Feast. And if you search the board for persimmon pudding, there's a recipe we make each year only a few days before Christmas.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                  Nigella's sprout recipe is my favourite too - and her roast potato method with semolina and goose fat.

                                  The time to make the Christmas pudding is Stir Up Sunday - the last Sunday in November. Check deliaonline or the bbc food site for steamed puddings that can be made now - though they won't have the majesty of the traditional pudding.

                                  And don't forget the Stilton, walnuts and port to have in front of the fire...

                                2. In my family there had to be Christmas pudding, mince pies AND fruit salad. Tradition was that no-one ate any of them. In the days of my grandmother there was sherry trifle too.
                                  And you need bread sauce, flavoured with onion and cloves, to eat with the turkey.
                                  My mom, being an American married to a Brit, introduced bizarre items such as candied sweet potatoes - but they never caught on.

                                  1. I've been in the UK for 4.5 years now. Every Christmas dinner I've had here has been turkey, brussels sprouts boiled to within an inch of their lives, mashed potatoes, little chipolata sausages, and stuffing that seems to be rolled into balls and left in the oven way too long. Bread sauce and Bisto gravy, too. I wish I could do the cooking, but my house is way too small to host. I look forward to the years when I visit family in Italy! I hope yours turns out much better than mine!

                                    1. One more thing you have to have: Christmas crackers. A cracker consists of a cardboard tube, containing a colored paper hat or crown, a small toy or trinket, and a joke on a small strip of paper. They're wrapped in bright paper and twisted on each end. When you pull the ends, a small charge makes a pop, like a cap gun. They're very traditional, been around since the mid-1800's. Supposedly, they became popular in Victorian times to help loosen up that stiff-upper-lip British reserve at holiday dinners and parties.

                                      It's too late to order them online, but any local British specialty store will have them. I've started seeing them in other stores in the US, with all the other holiday decorations and goodies. Cost Plus World Market always has them.

                                      Back in the late seventies, I did my junior year of college in England. I was twenty, away from home for the first time, and painfully homesick--but still having a magical, life-changing experience. I went traveling over the holidays and wound up in Canterbury on Christmas Eve. After a glorious Christmas Day mass at the cathedral, I went looking for dinner and found that nearly every restaurant in town was shut tight--all but one. It was a very nice French place, far above my starving-student price range, and I certainly didn't have the proper clothes for it in my backpack. But if I was going to eat that day, this was it, so in I went. They were serving a traditional English Christmas dinner, turkey and all the trimmings

                                      The staff politely ignored my jeans and wrinkled flannel shirt and seated me, and proceeded to treat me like their most valued guest ever. There was a Christmas cracker next to my plate. I'd never seen one and hadn't a clue what to do with it. At the next table was a very proper, tweedy, elderly couple. The waiter came to their table, pulled their crackers for them, and handed them the goodies inside. The couple put on their paper crowns and read each other their jokes and chuckled in an oh-so-British way over how very droll it all was. I was enchanted. Then the waiter came to my table and showed me how to pull my cracker. I put on my crown, smiled at the folks at the next table, and proceeded to enjoy a fabulous dinner.

                                      To this day, Christmas crackers still make me think of a warm welcome and a wonderful meal provided by some kind people who made a homesick kid feel a little closer to home.

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: MsMaryMc

                                        Thank you all for the suggestions and advice -- and the memories! Since the current traditional English Christmas dinner sounds a lot like our Thanksgiving dinner was -- I'm taking some of the ideas even though they're not necessarily CHRISTMAS specific in England.

                                        I'll do roast prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, roasted brussel sprouts and chestnuts, roasted potatoes, some basic carrots for the kids, and a Christmas pudding (one of the links had a recipe that only needed 1 day preparation). Am I missing anything?

                                        Final questions -- would you suggest individual individual Yorkshire pudding in muffin tins or a large one?
                                        Any favorite recipes for the roasted brussels sprouts and chestnuts?

                                        Now to find Christmas crackers! Merry Christmas everyone!

                                        1. re: eamcd

                                          I prefer individual yorkshire puds, the gravy sits nicely in them.

                                          I just bought crackers - had to drive 40 miles to the English shop to get them.

                                          1. re: smartie

                                            Are crackers not common in the US? We always have had them here in Canada, it doesn't seem like Christmas without them and their silly hats. At craft stores here you can even buy the cracker part and make your own with crepe paper and toilet paper rolls.

                                            1. re: shana

                                              I've started seeing them more here in the last few years, but I think a lot of Americans still don't know what they are. Twenty years ago, I don't think you would have seen them anywhere here, outside of a British specialty store.

                                              1. re: MsMaryMc

                                                I don't know if the sprouts/chestnuts/pancetta combination will work as well with roast beef as it does with turkey, they may be better just steamed and then tossed in some brown butter before serving - but that's your decision.

                                                Here is Nigella's sprouts recipe:
                                                http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/dat...

                                                and Yorkshire pudding:
                                                Nigella Lawson/Jane Grigson's Yorkshire Pudding

                                                Yorkshire Pudding:
                                                1 1/4 cups of milk
                                                4 eggs
                                                Scant 1/2 teaspoon of salt
                                                Freshly milled black pepper
                                                1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, sifted
                                                1 tablespoon of beef dripping or vegetable oil to taste

                                                Yorkshire Pudding: The oven should be heated to 450° F. Mix the milk, eggs and salt and add pepper, beating all well together. Let these ingredients stand for 15 minutes and then whisk in the flour. Meanwhile, add the dripping to the pan and put it in the oven to heat for about 10 minutes. Into this intensely hot pan, you should put the batter and cook for 20 minutes or until well puffed and golden.

                                                1. re: MsMaryMc

                                                  I've been able to buy good British Christmas Crackers for quite a few years, now, even in a TJ Maxx store in Sioux City, Iowa. ;-)

                                                  Loved the story of Christmas Day in Canterbury, by the way...I had a similar experience all alone, in France, on another holiday.

                                                2. re: shana

                                                  I fondly remember crackers from my childhood in California, but I haven't seen them in years.

                                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                                    I see them all over the place in NYC. Bought some at Tuesday Morning, and also saw them at WS today. We have them every year, and have the photos with the stupid hats to prove it. Even hauled them out for a pizza party this weekend!

                                                    P.S. It is particularly nice when you can find the "make your own" ones, as you can fill them with home made goodies, etc.

                                                    1. re: oakjoan

                                                      Believe it or not, I just saw them at Costco!

                                                    2. re: shana

                                                      of course crackers, silly me! I have seen them in stores in Florida and you must wear the silly hat and read the awful jokes.

                                                3. re: MsMaryMc

                                                  I know you posted that story years ago, but it was sweet-a true Chrstmas story. Brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.

                                                4. i am english but im married to american military as for your question if you google traditional english christmas pudding recipe it should bring plenty up many recipes starting from scratch, it is best sometimes to let is settle for a few months but its only so the flavour is stronger really! i do alot of baking especially around xmas my husbands friends have grown very acostomed to my mince pies and yorkshire puddings, good vegetables to have at xmas i find are my famous green beens with butter and garlic salt, carrots with maple syrup, roast parsnips glazed with honey, roast and mashed potatoes, broccoli, if you want a truly traditonal christmas dinner turkey is nearer to goose than beef, normally though in my house at xmas we have turkey, chicken and beef, also i make pigs in blankets which are tiny sausages wrapped inbacon (mmm) dont forget the stuffing and gravy, also each to there own if you like brussell sprouts then they also are a very english christmas tradition, why not try baking some homemade rolls? to have with real butter? also alot of people make carrots and swede mash you just cook them as usual(boil) and then mash them together with a bit of butter its very good but a very aquired taste, i hope you find this helpful!!!

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: lindz

                                                    Is there an American name for swedes?

                                                    1. re: foiegras

                                                      swedes = rutabagas

                                                  2. I think there is very little more English and time appropriate than turnip. And if I remember my Austen, Christmas apples and nuts (which book was that?).

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: pengcast

                                                      We don't have turnips at Christmas though!

                                                      Traditionally, you would get an orange/clementine and some nuts in your Christmas stocking. And not much else, according to my Dad!

                                                    2. We lived in the UK for 5 years, near Chester. "Christmas Dinner" was always Turkey, and in fact we'd be treated to 5 or 6 of these every year by vendors since every restaurant seems to feature that from Dec 1 on. Roast Beef was more a Christmas Eve dinner. Roasted veg, especially "sprouts", was common and vastly overcooked peas often accompanied either. Yorkshire Pud was a must. Potatoes or Parsnips or both are featured.

                                                      You MUST have the crackers mentioned above. That is probably even more traditional than the food. And finally, I remember we had a pudding (actually, a steamed cake)at at our friends house one year and there was a coin hidden in one of the slices. It's a good luck thing. In Dickens time, I think it was a Gold Crown that was hidden in it. I wish it was today, because I happened to be the lucky recipient of the coin at our dinner and an ounce or so of gold would just about have covered the dentist bll I had! (LOL).

                                                      Little mince pies are also traditional. Bisto is fairly easy to find in the US and worth trying.

                                                      However, the most important thing is for you NOT to go to work on the day after Christmas! This is Boxing Day, and a legal holiday in the UK. Best is to find a local fox-hunt (or start your own) and get a free tot of Sherry from the Lord of the Manor or the Master of the Hunt. At a minimum, a shot of booze and a walk through the neighborhood saying hi to friends would be in order! Happy Christmas! (that's how it is said there)

                                                      10 Replies
                                                      1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                        Isn't there something about begging for treats on St Stephen's Day?

                                                        1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                          Christmas Day was about the only day my family had roast dinner without Yorkshire pudding! We always used to have turkey with roast potatoes, parsnips, sprouts, glazed carrots and braised red cabbage. Forcemeat stuffing (pork sausage stuffing with chestnuts) also de rigeur, as well as pigs in blankets (chipolatas wrapped in bacon). And definitely crackers and Xmas pudding. It is traditional to put a sixpence in the pudding if you make it yourself.

                                                          Boxing Day is usually cold cuts, with salad and some kind of potato dish. Chips (french fries) at my parents house but I usually make some kind of gratin. I also roast a ham. Chutneys and pickles also compulsory. And a cheeseboard with mature cheddar and stilton. And Christmas cake and perhaps some trifle. Do you lot have to go to work on Boxing Day then?

                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                            So interesting to learn what English pigs in blankets are. American pigs in blankets are sausages wrapped in dough and baked - biscuit dough is classic (that would be American biscuits, of course!).

                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                              They would be called sausage rolls over here - typically made with puff pastry.

                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                Well, our festive sausage rolls are now in the freezer.Puff pastry rolled out quite thin - I mixed sausage meat with chestnut puree and a some pepper. Cut them into approx two-bite lengths. Baked for about 15 minutes. tested one - fab. The flavour of the chestnut working there as a backnote.

                                                                BTW, the only time I've had "pigs in blankets" in America , it was as a breakfast dish in West Virginia - sausages wrapped in pancakes. Was very good - a filling start to a great day with someone I'd only previously known through the internet.

                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                  I need to make some for Xmas Eve. I bought chestnut sausagemeat at the farmer's market the other day.

                                                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                                                    Works as a combo for a "proper pie" for dinner:

                                                                    Line a pie dish with puff pastry. Put the sausagemeat in. Then add a layer of chestnut puree and a scattering of chopped sage. Then add a layer of thinly sliced and peeled eating apple (Cox or similar). And top with a pastry lid. Needs a few minutes at a highish heat (200C - fan oven), then about another 30 at around 160C.

                                                                    Best hot but also damn good cold as a late night snack (leaving aside the inevitable late night indigestion)

                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                      harters, that sounds fabulous!
                                                                      please describe "chestnut sausagemeat". is your "sausagemeat" like our u.s. ground sausage meat (i.e., "bulk sausage" http://www.csumeats.com/images/Bulk%2... )?

                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                        I'll leave greedygirl to tell you about her chestmut sausagemeat. But, the answer generally is , yes, although ours tends to be much finer ground so that it's an homogenous lump , rather than being able to see the strands of meat.

                                                                        As often , we have langauge differences on the opposite sides of the pond. When a Brit talks about "sausage", we invariably mean what Americans I think call a "sausage link". "Sausagemeat" is minced and flavoured pork that might be stuffed into a "sausage" but is actually almost invariably used as an ingredient in other things - stuffings, pies and so on. It's not part of our usual cooking to make it into a patty as I understand Americans might do. I occasionally make small meatballs for pasta using this - but actually tend to buy sausages and split them open for the meat rather than use "sausagemeat" - I do this becasue the meat in good sausages tends to be nicer than "sausagemeat" (if you see what I mean)

                                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                                          thanks for the clarification. i want to try your dish with the sausage and apples.

                                                        2. I know this is an older thread, but thought it made sense to post here. I just finished a lovely browse through Elizabeth David's Christmas. It's a wonderful book with lots of interesting recipes and writing and it's inspired me to do an English Christmas of sorts myself this year, though I'm wondering if it would still be okay to make Beef Wellington!

                                                          http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-David...

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                            Wow! I'd love it if you made, and reported on, making Beef Wellington. I've never done it, although I have made a fancy salmon dish encrusted in pastry.

                                                            1. re: oakjoan

                                                              I'm going to attempt one this year....with minced bacon, mushroom, onion and spices. Served with a Hunter-type sauce of more minced onion& mushroom, garlic, port wine, and red currant jelly.

                                                              And I'll stick a meat thermometer into it to judge

                                                              1. re: oakjoan

                                                                Caroline1 posted a really thorough recipe, my husband has ordered 5 oz of Oregon black truffles to be delivered to my mother's, so I think I'm set. May copy the recipe from MTAFC to take with me as well. I guess "Wellington" is English, right? Haven't looked up the origins of the dish (yet).

                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                  Has to do with the Duke of Wellington, Ruth.........make sure you check into it before a 100 Anglo's and Anglophiles come swarming in to tell you! <G> Otherwise we'll have to start doing a whole sub-set on Aunt Jemima's Pancakes and Anadama bread!

                                                                  1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                    Right - that was my assumption! Off to check Wikipedia.

                                                                    Edit: Hmm - nothing too definitive here:

                                                                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef_Wel...

                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                      Worse, they'll start asking us about "Sara Lee" (I think that's what they named their first computer!............LOL)

                                                              2. re: MMRuth

                                                                I have a few of Elizabeth David's books, but not here Christmas one. Might have to have a look at that myself....

                                                              3. I don't know if Scottish is different from English Christmas dinner - and I never ate Chrismas dinner anywhere other than at my mother's dinner table so it may be more my family's tradition than Scotland's so here goes. Always always always turkey stuffed with sausage meat, sage and onions.
                                                                Sides were roast potatoes, mashed turnips with butter and black pepper, brussels sprouts - we boiled them I have since seen the light and now roast them.
                                                                Dessert was mincemeat pies - store bought - with really thick custard dollops on top.
                                                                Sherry trifle - home-made - the base was something called Bunty Sponges - a kind of sweet rusk which soaked up the sherry then it was layered with fruit in jello, custard and whipped cream.
                                                                No wonder nothing happens in Scotland between Christmas and New Year..
                                                                ..and by the way nobody touches anything until the Queen's speech is over.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: butterchicken2nan

                                                                  Good point about the Queen's speech! Of course, that is over here in the US by about 10:30 AM so not so difficult. We have our own Annis Horribilis to deal with.

                                                                2. Wonderful ideas I will use for English Christmas Dinner for our 8 grandchildren to help them know some of their heritage. My mother made huge plum pudding with hard sauce that Dad delivered to friends. There was suet in the puding and it was steamed.

                                                                  It is Dec. 15, 2009 and I just ordered crackers on line at Amazon.com and will get them by Christmas along with a British ornament favor for each. A number of styles were sold out. They had some nice ones at Williams Sonoma too. Thanks again for sharing

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: egrammy

                                                                    And don't forget the shiny penny and silver thimble that go into the plum pudding.

                                                                    We used to squabble over the turkey wishbone every Christmas, but the one who got the thimble was the one truly blessed

                                                                  2. The weirdest place to have a traditional English Xmas dinner, is here in Australia. We're an British Colony, you see, and we love nothing more than a 'traditional" Xmas luncheon... Despite the fact it can be 35degrees Celsius on Xmas day.

                                                                    We have a turkey, pork, baked potatoes, cauli cheese, maybe a few other baked vegetables like pumpkin or carrots. Usually have a plum pudding (with shillings in it) and brandy butter for dessert, maybe a Summer pudding with custard, and mince pies, shortbreads, White Christmas and sticky toffees.

                                                                    By the time 3pm comes, were all in a food induced coma on the couch!

                                                                    1. This is a literary rather than a culinary suggestion. I have the book "What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew" by Danial Pool. It's subtitled "From Fox Hunting to Whist, the Facts of Daily Life in 19th Century England" and is an invaluable resource for us Yanks who love English literature but who are baffled over bailiffs, militia men, Michaelmas Term and Sabbatarians.

                                                                      Another helpful guide is "Inside the Victorian Home, a Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England." This has more information about dining etiquette and food than Mr. Pool's book but, on the downside, more information about rats, vermin and adulterated edibles than you'll want to read close to meal time.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: mandycat

                                                                        Buy why not a goose? I'm sure you can find a small one somewhere. Just asking. I mean would 'Tiny Tim' REALLY be happy with 'standing rib'? You know he'd pretend to be happy but his tiny heart you know would be breaking. Nope. Has to be a goose.
                                                                        Would Charlie Manson REALLY be happy with a cheap set of steak knives for Christmas? Nope. They'd have to be Henkels.
                                                                        BTW have you watched 'The Victorian Farm' from Britain?

                                                                        1. re: Puffin3

                                                                          tiny tim should be thankful for whatever he gets. some snot kid, not wantin' standing rib!

                                                                          ungrateful little…<grumble>…